By Lucie Krisman on October 2, 2021
Although candidates for Lawrence City Commission agreed that arts assets are a crucial part of the community’s culture, their attitudes toward what more stable funding for the arts would look like differed at the Arts, Culture & Creative Industries forum on Saturday.
City funding for arts and culture programs in Lawrence currently comes from the transient guest tax, which relies on visitors and therefore has taken a hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the tax funds a competitive grant program, so it isn’t a reliable source of support for arts programs from year to year.
Moderator Deanell Reece Tacha — a former judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit — said the arts are more than the buildings they operate in; they rely on human capital as well. Plus, she said the transient guest tax relies on “sporadic and very varied” money that all comes from outside the city, depending on what activities are going on. She asked the candidates how they might visualize a more “normalized” means for the city to fund the arts.